Hiawatha light-rail name to be phased out for Blue Line

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2013 - 3:24 PM

Hiawatha LRT to be Blue Line as agency readies more train, bus service.

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The Hiawatha Light Rail Line is being rebranded as the METRO Blue Line. The Blue Line is the first of the Twin Cities METRO system of rapid transit lines which include METRO Red Line Bus Rapid Transit on Cedar Ave. METRO Blue Line trains will now have three cars and will run every ten minutes throughout most of the day. Twelve new light-rail vehicles dedicated to the line will allow this increased service capacity. During the kickoff event Metro Transit staff handed out Blue line pens, new schedules and special commemorative fare cards.

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The name isn’t likely to leave riders’ lips any time soon, but starting Friday the light-rail line that runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America won’t be called the Hiawatha Line.

The line is being rebranded as the Blue Line, Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said.

As part of the change and to educate riders, transit agency officials held a launch party from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at the 46th Street Station in south Minneapolis. Metro Transit unveiled new logos for the Blue Line, showed off new station graphics and passed out new schedules for riders. They also distributed special commemorative fare cards.

Over the past couple of weeks, destination signs with blue markers and the words “Blue Line” have been used to help riders become familiar with the new name. New rail cars recently added to the line also will be on display.

Getting riders familiar with the Blue Line name will be important because the new Green Line trains between Minneapolis and St. Paul will start running next year. In downtown Minneapolis, the two lines will share a track and station stops.

It also will help distinguish the train from the new Red Line Bus Rapid Transit line that is scheduled to begin June 22 along Cedar Avenue from Bloomington to Eagan, Apple Valley and Lakeville.

For the 31,000 daily users, the name change “will be hard,” Siqveland said, noting that the light-rail line has been known as the Hiawatha Line since its debut in 2004.

Even Metro Transit’s website won’t totally eliminate all references to Hiawatha. To ease the transition, a page describing Blue Line service will keep the word Hiawatha in parenthesis in the title.

Besides the name change, the Blue Line also will have longer trains. Metro Transit will now operate three-car trains, which will run about every 10 minutes throughout most of the day.

Last year, Metro Transit provided 10.5 million rides on the line, the highest number since rail service began nine years ago.

 

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768

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